Those must be comfortable shoes. Forrest Gump once said this, just before saying you can tell a lot about someone, like where they’re going.
Where they’ve been and that he’d worn lots of shoes (next time you catch Forrest Gump on TV watch for the color red. It’s always present when a big, life event is going to take place for Mr. Gump).
So alright, maybe you don’t want to take fashion advice from a slower witted, fictional character.
Fake or not though, the man does have a point.
You need the right shoes for the right job. This is especially true whenever doing any kind of physical activity. So the next time you’re heading out to the gym for a weight lifting session, leave the wing tips at home.
We’ve got everything you need to know about the right weightlifting shoes and how to pick out the perfect pair for yourself!
What’s the Deal With Weightlifting Shoes Anyway?
You just purchased those brand new CrossFit shoes with the crazy colors.
After all, you need to make sure people notice you’re at the gym. So do you really need weightlifting shoes if you already have those
So do you really need weightlifting shoes if you already have those CrossFits?
For the average lifter, no. And if you’re on a tight budget, there is no reason to go out and continually drop cash on more shoes.
However, if you’re serious when it comes to improving your lifting game (especially explosive moves such as the squat or deadlift) than yes, you do need different shoes.
CrossFit shoes are a bit…confused. Whether you refer to them as CrossFits, cross-trainers or just less flexible running shoes, CrossFit are designed to allow for explosive, athletic movements while providing your feet with adthenonal support so it doesn’t wobble as much. The extra support and thicker material is something jogging shoes no longer have. Running shoes are paper-thin and, while extremely comfortable, you probably have to go to the store and buy a new pair every few months thanks to the fabric ripping out and your pinkie toe sticking out the side.
In reality, shoes made for cross training, running or playing tennis are designed to absorb the movement of your body weight. It’s why some have air in the base (which is always nice after you step on something sharp) or a good deal of foam. This feature though is the last thing you want when lifting. You don’t want super squishy soles in your shoes.
You wouldn’t try to break out the Bulgarian split squat on your mattress now, would you?
When you lift, you want to create as much force as you possibly can. You do this by pushing your feet right into the floor. This helps create the power in your lift. The other kinds of shoes are made to absorb this movement. You need shoes designed to allow the force to travel through your feet, through your shoes, and into the floor as you explode up.
What to Look For In Weightlifting Shoes
So you don’t want shoes with the super springy soul.
If you’re not going to go out and special order your weightlifting shoes (or look for very specific shops that carry these kinds of shoes, as it can be a bit tricky to locate actual brick and mortar stores with weightlifting shoes for sale), you need to know what to look for.
Begin with the sole. You want a shoe with a sole that is slightly raised in the heel. You also want a shoe with a completely solid sole. This will help generate the highest level of power when pushing off the ground. By having the solid sole shoes with an elevated heel, there is no loss of force. It also essentially locks you into place. Shoes with the rubbery or squishy sole will rock, even just a little bit. When lifting big, the last thing you want is for your feet to rock.
The standard weightlifting shoe is going to have a heel that measures out to around 1.5 inches, although a 1-inch sole is still fine. Anything larger than 1.5 or smaller than 1 inch comes down to a personal preference.
Beyond the ability to transfer force from your body to the floor and generate a greater thrust in your lift, having the elevated platform for your heel makes it possible for you to sit deeper during a squat while also keeping your back and neck straight. This, in turn, reduces your injury potential yet at the same time it increases the flex on your gluteus, so you receive a better, safer workout. All thanks to the right pair of shoes (Breaking Muscle, 2015).
Why In the World Do I See Converse Everywhere?
Converse is the classic shoe that has been around, seemingly unchanged, for decades.
After all, it helped “The Jet” crank out home runs and run away from terrifying dogs in “The Sandlot,” so naturally it can do anything.
Is that why you’ll see the Converse Chuck Taylor around the weightlifting area of the gym?
Or is the person trying to make a fashion statement?
There are actually a few excellent reasons as to why someone would consider rocking out the Converse while lifting weights.
For starters, Converse has a flat sole without much spring to it. You’re basically standing on a surface not too much more comfortable than the floor. Because of the hard sole, you’ll find the Converse are actually excellent for a deadlift. You don’t have the elevated heel, which is something you want for squats, but when you’re in a pinch and you need weightlifting shoes, Converse is actually the way to go.
Plus, these shoes are going to cost anywhere from $100 to $200 less than your standard weightlifting shoes, so if you don’t have (or want to spend) the money on more expensive shoes, it’s time to look towards Converse (Steady Strength, 2013).
The Shoe For The Lifts
Now, we just went over how most weightlifting shoes have a heel in order to improve your general squat, clean and other Olympic lifting moves.
With that said, the elevated heel isn’t for everyone (which is why Converse may be the way to go for budget lifters). If you perform wide stance squats, such as a sumo squat, the elevated heel can actually throw off your lift and cause problems with your back, or at the very least direct the weight towards your calf instead of the rest of your leg (remember those shoes back in the 90s with the giant, circular pad in the front, which isolated your leg muscle to increase strength and boost jumping ability? It works something like that.
Of course, Cosmo Kramer also tried to rock these in an episode of Seinfeld as well). For general deadlifting and wide stance moves, you’ll want a flat heel. So, before heading out to the store to pick up a pair of shoes, make sure you already know what kind of lifts you perform (Men’s Health, 2017).
Best Weightlifting Shoes Options
So we already went with the Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars.
There’s really nothing else we can add to the shoe, other than it is affordable and a great lifting shoe. Plus, you keep the kicks clean and you can toss the shoes in with some casual outfits as well (something you can’t do with most of the other shoes here).
Outside of the Converse though, here are a few other kinds of shoes to consider.
Looking for a quality, elevated heel shoe that also provides you with excellent lateral support?
The Adidas Adipower is the way to go. This shoe uses a flat sole, with your toes literally a few millimeters off of the ground. The shoe is stiff, so it’s not going to be your everyday playing basketball kind of shoes, but you don’t want that with lifting. This is the kind of shoe to go for if most of your lifting is focused around the Olympic cleans and snatches. Plus, the shoe retails for around $100 (if you search sites like Amazon you’ll probably find it for less), which is far less than buying the specially crafted weightlifting shoes.
Other Weightlifting Shoes Options
Alright, so if you really want to get official, we’ll make sure to include shoes made specifically for weightlifting. Like the other options, you do need to know what lifts you’re performing. You should also try to find a location that sells the shoes in person, at least for the first time you try on your shoes for a particular brand, because these may fit you differently than a pair of Jordans.
VS Athletics is probably the best bet when you don’t want to spend a ton of cash. Just make sure to look out for the heel with this brand, as you can quickly approach high-heel height, if you’re not paying attention to shoe specs.
Pendlay Do-Win is a great lifting shoe in that it is designed by a former Olympic Weightlifter. This is one of the few lineup of shoes that give some comfort benefits, but that comfort will cost you extra.
Nike released these shoes initially for the 2008 Olympics. The shoes are excellently crafted and built strong to last. Of course, the shoes are also pretty ugly as well, but if you want that giant Swoosh across the side of the shoes, this is the product for you.
Inov-8 Fastlift 335
These shoes are great for weight lifting, as the midfoot is reinforced while the shoes are surprisingly comfortable without reducing the quality of your lift. This is also a brand that produces weightlifting shoes for both men and women. The same can’t be said for all the other brands. It costs a bit more than most of the other options out there, but when you want to be comfortable with a great looking shoe, make sure to give these a check.
Amber is a company that has been producing sporting equipment for a while, but it doesn’t advertise like other companies so you may not have heard of them before (although chances are high you’ve used products by the company).
The shoe has a wood sole and an elevated heel. The shoe also offers nice support and straps you in to prevent wiggling around. These particular shoes are a bit more basic for manufactured “weightlifting shoes,” but if you want a solid pair of lifting shoes that are designed for this exact purpose, the Amber Crossmaxxe should be considered.
The shoe you mean business without forcing you to spend more than what you’re comfortable with (or can afford).
Adidas Performance Powerlift
You can package this along with the Converse as one of the most affordable options on the market. Now, it is designed more for the CrossFit crowd due to some flexibility you won’t find in other weightlifting shoes. With that said, it has a flat, hard sole and a slightly elevated heel.
The shoe is made out of some mesh, so if your feet sweat a lot these are great shoes for that.
To improve performance, having the right pair of shoes is always necessary. If you’re an avid runner, you need the right pair of running shoes.
If you are a baller and want to maintain traction while improving your explosive jump potential you’ll need the right pair of basketball shoes. If you’re going out on a date and want to impress the person you found through a phone app, you’re going to need the right shoes (preferably something with some traction, just in case you need to run away for real life at some point). It all goes to show you need the right pair of shoes for just about everything in life, including weightlifting.
So if you’re truly serious about amping up your weight lifting game and want to maximize your lift potential, keep all of this in mind as you shop for the perfect weightlifting shoes.